Absorption and expression are associated by more than sequence and causality, these are in some ways synonymous. The act of reading and the act of writing are interlinked, just as looking and showing are part of the same inclination. Taking a picture forces us to concentrate on its subject, and it’s debatable whether photography is analogous to reading or to writing, or to both in different ways. The value (for many) in jotting down ideas – for instance, in a blog post – is in the act of learning. It’s in the process of gathering one’s thoughts and sharing these in a concise and logical flow that hopefully resembles truth; just as the process of taking a picture, in the same way, is like an act of seeing. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, it shouldn’t be taken for granted. We look around us all the time, and we occasionally see.
The value of social media, in this way of thinking, is partly educational. The merest tweet forces its author to think. The most trivial Instagram snapshot forces its photographer to see. Even the falsest Facebook profile is the result of creativity. The self-expression at the core of such activities – within reason, naturally, and not all in the same way or to the same degree – is a mental exercise of measurable value. A trivial tweet may be a missed opportunity, as would be a careless photograph, but neither of these actions is as wasteful as reading or seeing the result superficially. In other words, beauty is in the eye of its creator, and that is a whole other can of worms…
Like many scribblings around this time, this too leads to the new iPad and its retina display. I haven’t seen it yet, but I feel as though I have. So much has been written about the wonder of its pixels, I look for pixels everywhere. I’m typing now and as the letters appear on my screen I feel a little bit jilted that the shapes don’t burst with flash. I look down at the keyboard and I think, how much better the plastic would appear if made of many tiny lightbulbs to accentuate it. Don’t get me started about my chair, that piece of wooden garbage could really use a pixel makeover. I sure would like to see it in high-def, with cracks and all, would make the sitting experience a new thrill each time, might even make the wood somehow softer. If I had a new iPad with its retina display, I don’t think I would ever look away.
This is an exaggeration, as was the prior sequence about the educational merits of a trivial tweet, but in exaggeration some random truth here and there is prone to surface. I don’t know what that truth is quite yet, but I’m nagged by the thought that the iPad’s visual extravaganza and social media are at polar ends of the same continuum – where the former is almost escapist, while the latter is concentrated reality – and that’s probably an exaggeration also. This is all strictly relative, and it’s certainly not a contest of one versus the other. The two obviously coexist, and maybe enhance one another in ways. But this duality of escapism and reality, of bright pixels for all and creativity for the individual, could merit additional reflection. I stumbled upon the notion while messing around on my keyboard and staring at a screen that seems almost analog to me now.